I’ve often said that bad weather can make even the best farmer look bad, while good weather can make a poor farmer look–well, a lousy farmer looks bad in spite of the weather.
But I digress. I don’t know if we can attribute it to climate change, the first hints of an El Nino, or just luck of the draw, but weather sure is wreaking havoc in several farming areas. I just got an email from a dairy nutritionist in Nebraska inquiring about the availability of very early corn hybrids because tornadoes and heavy rains are causing farmers to replant corn (for silage). And a friend in Minnesota, a plant breeder, reports that heavy rains there are flooding spring-planted crops. It’s not that bad in the Northeast, but that depends on the location, especially when a thunderstorm drops several inches on one farm while not touching farms in the next community. I remember one day sitting in my office during hay crop harvest when all of a sudden it started raining in torrents. We had several employees involved in chopping and hauling the crop, so I went hauling up there in my car expecting the worst. But when I got there, only a few miles north of the farm, it was bone dry, the sun was shining, and the guys were wondering if I’d just washed my car since it was still wet!
There’s nothing that can be done to change the weather, but good crop managers seem to make the best of a bad situation. They have the ability to get things done not only right, but quickly. The move from baling forages as dry hay to chopping them for silage made a huge difference, reducing weather risk from several days to about half a day. Especially with second and subsequent harvests, mowing early in the morning often can mean chopping that afternoon. Yet I continue to see field after field of brown windrows, wet yet again from the latest shower, the farmer waiting for enough dry weather to be ready to bale. Many of these same farms already put up corn silage, so the move from dry hay to hay silage means a different head for the chopper plus more silage capacity. Not simple or cheap–but neither is trying to make dry hay in the humid Northeast!